All Sermons
Christ beyond boundaries
Bible Passage Acts 11: 1- 30
This content is part of a series Bright Morning Reflections, in topic 2023 & book Acts.

Christ beyond boundaries

  • Rev. Bright Mawuena Nfodzo
Date preached October 3, 2023

SCRIPTURE 📖
1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were in Judea heard that the gentiles had also accepted the word of God.

2 But when Peter went up to Jerusalem, those who emphasized circumcision disagreed with him.

3 They said, “You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”

4 Then Peter began to explain to them point by point what had happened. He said,

5 “I was in the town of Joppa praying when in a trance I saw a vision: Something like a large linen sheet descended down from heaven, lowered by its four corners, and it came right down to me.

6 When I examined it closely, I saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and birds of the air.

7 I also heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter! Kill something and eat it.’

8 But I replied, ‘Absolutely not, Lord, for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth!’

9 Then the voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘You must stop calling common what God has made clean!’

10 This happened three times. Then everything was pulled back up to heaven.

11 “At that very moment three men arrived at the house where we were staying. They had been sent to me from Caesarea.

12 The Spirit told me to go with them without hesitating. These six brothers went with me, too, and we entered the house of the man from Caesarea.

13 Then he told us how he had seen an angel standing in his home and saying, ‘Send messengers to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter.

14 He will discuss with you how you and your entire household will be saved.’

15 “When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he was first given to us.

16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

17 Now if God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, who was I to try to stop God?”

18 When they heard this, they calmed down, and praised God by saying, “So God has given repentance that leads to life even to gentiles.”

19 Now the people who were scattered by the persecution that started because of Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews.

20 But among them were some men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began proclaiming the Lord Jesus even to the Hellenistic Jews.

21 The hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

22 When the church in Jerusalem heard this news, they sent Barnabas all the way to Antioch.

23 When he arrived, he rejoiced to see what the grace of God had done, and with hearty determination he kept encouraging all of them to remain faithful to the Lord,

24 because he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And so a large number of people was brought to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas left for Tarsus to look for Saul.

26 When he found him, he brought him to Antioch, and for a whole year they were guests of the church and taught many people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

27 At that time some prophets from Jerusalem came down to Antioch.

28 One of them named Agabus got up and predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine all over the world. This happened during the reign of Claudius.

29 So all of the disciples decided they would send a contribution to the brothers living in Judea, as they were able,

30 by sending it through Barnabas and Saul to the elders.

 

BACKGROUND
In Acts 10, Peter saw a vision about the cleanliness of every food that God had made. The vision meant that if certain kinds of food were not unclean, neither were certain kinds of people. This encouraged Peter not to be afraid of mixing with the Gentiles (Acts 10: 23b-29). So Peter in Caesarea baptised Cornelius who was a devout Gentile believer and his household after he preached the message of the salvation of God and they accepted it.

Many in the Jerusalem church criticized Peter for what had happened in the house of Cornelius. Their minds were so molded by Jewish thinking that they could think of Christianity only as an improved form of Judaism. They were pleased when Gentiles accepted Jewish ways, but they were not pleased when people of any nationality entered the community of God’s people without any thought for the Jewish laws concerning foods, cleansing, and circumcision (verses 1-3).

Peter therefore explained to his critics how God had corrected his prejudice against the Gentiles (verses 4-14) and how the Gentiles had received all God’s blessings on the same basis as the Jews (verses 15-17).

Although they accepted Peter’s explanation and praised God (verse 18), they were not fully convinced, and soon trouble broke out again (Acts 15:1,5).

While the apostles and others were spreading the gospel in various places, an interesting work grew up in Antioch in Syria. Some Christians who had been scattered from Jerusalem at the time of Stephen’s death preached among the Greek population of Antioch and many believed (verses 19-21). When the leaders of the Jerusalem church heard this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. This was a wise choice, for Barnabas was from nearby Cyprus and had a much broader outlook than those Jews who had never been outside Judea. He had the ability to understand and help the new converts, and under his wise guidance, the church grew rapidly (verses 22-24).

Within a short time, there was more work than Barnabas himself could manage. He wanted a helper, but the person had to be of the right sort. Therefore, he did not go back to Jerusalem to look for help but went to Tarsus to get Saul. The last mention of Saul in the story was ten years earlier (see Acts 11:30), and now he returned with Barnabas to help the Antioch church. For the next year, they preached and taught, among Christians and non-Christians, with the result that the church grew even more (verses 25-26).

The language spoken in Antioch was Greek. Consequently, when the disciples spoke about Jesus, instead of using the Hebrew word ‘Messiah’ they used the equivalent Greek word ‘Christ’. The local citizens heard the disciples use this word continually and, although it had no significance for them, it gave them an easy name by which to identify this group of religious people – ‘Christ’s people’ or ‘Christians’. Elsewhere in Acts, Christians are called believers, disciples, followers, brothers, and saints (or God’s holy people) (see Acts 5:14; 9:1,32; 11:1). To the Jews they were known as Nazarenes (see Acts 24:5).

Towards the end of Barnabas and Saul’s year in Antioch, some prophets from Jerusalem visited the Antioch church. One of them warned of a coming famine that would bring much suffering to the believers in Jerusalem. The Antioch believers (who were Gentiles) demonstrated the meaning of true fellowship by sacrificing their own money and goods to help their troubled Jewish brothers (verses 27-29). The offering was taken to Jerusalem by Barnabas, Saul, and Titus ( Gal 2:1).

LESSONS✍🏽
🔷 God accepts all people who come to Him no matter their race, status, or background

🔷 There needs to be collaboration between all God’s people in order to be efficient in the spread of the gospel

🔷 Believers must stand in the gap and share what they have with their fellows

PRAYER POINTS🙏🏽
💥 Pray for those who are yet to receive Jesus
💥 Ask for wisdom and a deeper explanation of the word of God always

CONCLUSION📙
The love and the work of Christ goes beyond boundaries. Christ accepts all and showers His blessings on them. Let us not hesitate to follow the instructions of God and to be dedicated to the mission.
AMEN

In series Bright Morning Reflections